Speed Dating

Speed Dating

Beyond chugging rainbows
Mark Applebaum
Mark Applebaum
Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players
Takao Hyakutome
Southern Oregon University Percussion Ensemble
Terry Longshore
Catalog Number: 
spoken word

Menlo Park, CA

Release Date: 
Feb 23, 2018
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Mark Applebaum has never been one to shy away from making connections, even odd ones. In fact, one could argue that’s what composing is all about. In his latest assemblage, Speed Dating, five smartly absurd works (three of which deal with history in some wry fashion) are presented for your kind consideration (if not downright bemusement).

The album opens with a tip of the hat to pioneering soundpoet Charles Amirkhanian, who, in 1972, famously made a rhythmic tape piece (Just) out of the words rainbow, chug, bandit and bomb (deliciously articulated by Nicholas Slonimsky). In Applebaum’s Three Unlikely Corporate Sponsorships, he uses his own voice contrapuntally, ranting ever more hilariously about the injustices of the world today. Biting socio-political commentary has rarely been more foot-tapping.

Applebaum reached into his home storage space and fired up eight classic analog synths from the 80s that had been lying there. Skeletons in the Closet uses a randomizing digital Max patch to operate on these dusty treasures, no doubt frustrating purists while delightfully mangling the past.

Speed Dating, another octet, this time for acoustic instruments (in fact the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, led by Eduardo Leandro) is based on coy pairings in strange orgiastic combinations. Unlike in Shakespeare plays, no marriages result. In addition to the odd instrumental partnerships, the players have to vocalize mating chirrups in response to custom wristwatches supplied by the composer. 

The Plate of Transition Nourishes the Chameleon Appetite comes roaring back from 1992 with Belgium-based violinist Takao Hyakutome deftly navigating the various mercurial and laconic formal options laid out by the composer. The resulting violin mauling is downright virtuosic.

Finally, in Clicktrack, a dozen percussionists (Southern Oregon University Percussion Ensemble, led by Terry Longshore) make a quiet Cageian racket, following precise rhythms in their headphones while the audience hears scratchy noises and fragments of text (actually anagrams of Shakespeare sonnets).

The humorous and provocative album is vintage Applebaum; not for the unprepared. Especially the third track, Halliburton, that comes with a Parental Advisory warning for strong language. 



"Mr. Applebaum’s “Speed Dating” is a fascinating stylistic grab bag. Its biggest treats involve very different kinds of text setting. In “Three Unlikely Corporate Sponsorships” (2016), Mr. Applebaum multitracked himself reciting comic, politically sharp-edged ruminations about Nestlé, General Motors and Halliburton, with clever wordplay yielding terrific rhythmic counterpoint." [FULL ARTICLE] - Allan Kozinn


"a virtuoso of semi-abstract wordplay, as he demonstrates in “Three Unlikely Corporate Sponsorships,” a triptych of verbal sculpture that progresses from the simple skewering of brand names and advertising through an increasingly fervent (though wittily ambivalent) political critique. Even more abstract, but darker and richer, is the concluding “Clicktrack,” which combines percussion and spoken words in a dance whose guidelines are obscure yet wonderfully compelling." [FULL ARTICLE] - Joshua Kosman


"For some, the blend of painstaking composition and tongue-in-cheek decadence could be truly rewarding." [FULL ARTICLE] - Tristan Jones


"The latest CD by Mark Applebaum is curious, unique and avant-garde, for true lovers of contemporary and electronic music. The first three traces of the work are, in fact, created through overlapping words, recorded in four audio channels and overlapping each other, while Skeletons in the Closet is composed of eight analogue synthesizers connected in series, whose overlapping of the produced effects gives life to this unusual song. Speed Dating, written instead for chamber octet, is perhaps the leading piece of the CD: a frenetic polyphony of melodic fragments that chase each other incessantly. Also interesting are Clicktrack, for twelve percussionists divided into three groups of four that, by exploring the timbral effects that this multifaceted instrumental section makes available, interlock themselves in succession, following a common timeline." [FULL ARTILCE] - Luciano Feliciani


"as varied and whimsical as his pieces are, there is always a sense of coherence and competence behind the seemingly chaotic surfaces, giving the music intellectual clarity, and while it is challenging and requires a thoughtful disposition for appreciation, this disc is reasonably accessible and entertaining because of Applebaum's wry wit and ingenuity. Highly recommended for adventurous listeners." [FULL ARTICLE] - Blair Sanderson


"Colourfully produced and very entertaining, this is contemporary music that creates its own open door to sound, and indeed to the ways we think about creative processes and means of expression in any art form. Even where the music appears to have a quality of randomness it is soon apparent that the skilled hand of a confident craftsman is guiding each musical narrative, so that we don’t end up feeling confused or short-changed. This is not ‘easy listening’, but its rewards are more than equal to the effort demanded of the listener – so, go listen!" [FULL ARTICLE] - Dominy Clements